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The sponsorship dilemma for aspiring riders

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  • The sponsorship dilemma for aspiring riders

    Last night at supper, several of us who "came of age" in the 60s, George Morris, Patty Heukeroth, Tiff Teeter (formerly married to Bernie Traurig), myself, and a few others were talking about the change in obtaining sponsorship, "then and now."
    Back then, the USET either owned or was loaned top horses, by such generous sponsors as Patrick Butler, the Clark family of So Hamilton, etc.
    These were "no strings attached" horses, and the coaches of the USET were free to assign them to whoever.
    Now, it`s a case of "find your own sponsor or be born rich, or go without", was our conclusion. Much, much tougher for the kids today, who get caught in the classic "Catch 22", which is that in order to get good horses, you have to be noticed, but in order to be noticed, you have to have good horses.
    So the question I`d ask is whether this is an accurate assessment, and, if it is, what can the good up and comers do to break out of the trap?
    http://www.tamarackhill.com/

  • #2
    .
    Last edited by RHdobes563; Dec. 30, 2007, 05:07 PM.
    "Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt

    Comment


    • #3
      I think that is a very valid question and one that I am sure many riders have lost sleep over. I am a Preliminary level young adult rider who is what I would consider semi-pro. I am fortunate enough to have a student whose father is an agent for motocross racers. So, although he has little experience in eventing, he has tons of experience in marketing. We have started small, in my area, and hopefully one day I will be able to compete at a level where larger sponsorships might be a possibility. I am fortunate to have a wonderful mare who (God willing) should take me where I want to go. And I have come to learn that eventers, if they want it bad enough, will do what it takes to get where they want to go. For instance, one of our own COTHers (who should remain nameless ) selling herself to Science to compete... That's what we LOVE about eventers. And I don't think there is one rider who wouldn't mind eating ramen noodles so that their horse could get monthly adequan and weekly aquatred sessions... That's just the way we roll. But, it would be nice to be rewarded for the hard work by being allowed to ride horses that Denny speaks of from the old USET days.
      For all your dog needs visit:
      www.milliondollarmutt.com

      Comment


      • #4
        If riders are looking for one big sponsor to buy horses and write checks, that is really difficult to come by and I have no information about that.

        But if riders are looking for multiple smaller sponsors to help them along the way, they need to treat their riding career like a business. Ask for investors and be prepared to show what you offer in return. The big names with lots of sponsors know how to do this....it's probably something they should be teaching their students, in addition to how to ride that advanced corner combination.

        I work in pr in the horse industry and I have had a few riders or parents of riders ask me if I would help them get some help in the way of sponsorship from a client. MANY makers of horse products would love to help a promising rider, not in the form of blank checks but with a small amount of help along the way.
        I tell the people asking for help to send me a resume, some photos, what they want from a sponsor and what they offer in return. I don't hear back from them.

        If you are going to go to a business and ask for money you better have all your ducks in a row and be prepared to make a professional presentation.

        The same sort of presentation made to breeders of sport horses could land someone the use of a top quality horse, but those breeders, with rare exceptions, are not out shopping for a rider, the rider needs to go and find them.

        Going around in a haphazard way basically begging and hoping for the best is just not going to work.

        And it is going to get more difficult rather than easier in the future.
        The big money families like the Duponts and the Firestones who spent a ton of money to support sports like ours for generations are just not there anymore.

        Makes me glad my aspirations stop at training level.
        Nina's Story
        Epona Comm on FB

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by BarbB View Post
          If riders are looking for one big sponsor to buy horses and write checks, that is really difficult to come by and I have no information about that.

          But if riders are looking for multiple smaller sponsors to help them along the way, they need to treat their riding career like a business. Ask for investors and be prepared to show what you offer in return. The big names with lots of sponsors know how to do this....it's probably something they should be teaching their students, in addition to how to ride that advanced corner combination.

          I work in pr in the horse industry and I have had a few riders or parents of riders ask me if I would help them get some help in the way of sponsorship from a client. MANY makers of horse products would love to help a promising rider, not in the form of blank checks but with a small amount of help along the way.
          I tell the people asking for help to send me a resume, some photos, what they want from a sponsor and what they offer in return. I don't hear back from them.

          If you are going to go to a business and ask for money you better have all your ducks in a row and be prepared to make a professional presentation.

          The same sort of presentation made to breeders of sport horses could land someone the use of a top quality horse, but those breeders, with rare exceptions, are not out shopping for a rider, the rider needs to go and find them.

          Going around in a haphazard way basically begging and hoping for the best is just not going to work.

          And it is going to get more difficult rather than easier in the future.
          The big money families like the Duponts and the Firestones who spent a ton of money to support sports like ours for generations are just not there anymore.

          Makes me glad my aspirations stop at training level.
          Wow! That was very well thought out and presented!! BarbB. It's easy to see how people could have a hard time receiving sponsorships if they don't want to put in the work that it takes. My client who is the motocross agent has always said... "ask not what your sponsor can do for you but what YOU can do for your SPONSOR" it's not like these people are going to give you money/product out of the goodness of their hearts. They need to know what it is you can give them
          For all your dog needs visit:
          www.milliondollarmutt.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Sponsorship

            cevent- you need to go work and/or be a working student for an upper level event rider that you respect. Try to get into a barn where there are young horses to bring along and "PROVE YOURSELF". This will take you many many years of paying your dues and making no money. That is something you will have to face with the level you are at right now. This will also be a way to show you, if you are really cut out to be able to work/train/ride as an eventer, and in the future make it your business.

            denny- these are good questions you ask and definately need some answers. Riders (in general) are not good at getting themselves sponsorship. Do you think it would help if there was some kind of "agent" to be the go between for riders that had a marketing degree and the experience of selling? Most all sports that have up and coming athletes have agents to represent them, isn't it time that this starts to cross over more into the horse world, especially the eventing world ??

            Our sport is getting more expensive than ever. We do need to come up with something so that the hard working, talented, willing to sacrifice anything youngster doesn't slip through the cracks just because of the almighty $$$
            http://www.three-dayfarm.com

            Comment


            • #7
              I totally would put the time and energy into searching for a sponsor if I knew that I would be considered. I know that sounds terrible and selfish, but realistically will a company look at someone who hasnt gone above training?

              Also, do you only help people you know find sponsors or would you be willing to help anyone?

              Comment


              • #8
                expenses ?

                Originally posted by denny View Post
                Last night at supper, several of us who "came of age" in the 60s, George Morris, Patty Heukeroth, Tiff Teeter (formerly married to Bernie Traurig), myself, and a few others were talking about the change in obtaining sponsorship, "then and now."
                Back then, the USET either owned or was loaned top horses, by such generous sponsors as Patrick Butler, the Clark family of So Hamilton, etc.
                These were "no strings attached" horses, and the coaches of the USET were free to assign them to whoever.
                Now, it`s a case of "find your own sponsor or be born rich, or go without", was our conclusion. Much, much tougher for the kids today, who get caught in the classic "Catch 22", which is that in order to get good horses, you have to be noticed, but in order to be noticed, you have to have good horses.
                So the question I`d ask is whether this is an accurate assessment, and, if it is, what can the good up and comers do to break out of the trap?
                Denny,

                Who paid the competition expenses of the horses that were loaned to the riders that you speak of ? What about the upkeep, vet bills, transportation, etc. ? Who was responsible for what in the arrangement ?

                Speaking as a breeder, I have often given some serious thought to this same idea, as I do not have the time to be able to compete on a regular basis, yet the horses need to. But besides the above financial considerations, there is the fact that I would want to send stallions, which most riders do not want to compete.

                Also, do you think the current "powers that be" would have the same freedom to assign such horses to specific riders these days ?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Kanga- I worked for 8 years at a very busy Event barn with an ULR and have helped out another ULR for the past couple years. I did everything at that barn from picking paddocks, scrubbing feed buckets, grooming at events and exercising the horses and I learned everything I know now from the people that worked there. I decided to break away from that event barn because it wasn't as much of an event barn anymore because the ULR moved herself to a different location and isn't competing as much as she used to. She still owns the farm but doesnt come up to teach as much. Plus I felt like I had been there for so long that they couldnt offer me anything new than what I had already done/learned. I worked by butt off and I am very dedicated to what I do and I don't mind working long hours and getting paid very little, thats why I'm not at college and am on my own. I am currently working for a former groom of an ULR who has decided to get away from grooming and has started her own training business. She has a lot of different horses, not just the event type, and she has mostly greenies at the moment. She's been totally helpful and has offered to find me a horse from someone she trains and sells young horses for so I can have my own "project" sale horse.

                  Believe me, I know this is a difficult sport and I know nothing is going to be handed to me on a silver platter and I am VERY willing to work hard to get where I want to be in the future. This type of lifestyle isn't for anyone, but I believe its for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Barb is a woman of her words!!! She is helping me with a small sponsorship form Arctic Blast Wraps and Blankets. Seriously!

                    The sad part, it is easier to be a privateer (an amateur who rides at the top levels) than to get sufficient sponsorship to be able to focus on riding.

                    Reed

                    Originally posted by BarbB View Post
                    But if riders are looking for multiple smaller sponsors to help them along the way, they need to treat their riding career like a business. Ask for investors and be prepared to show what you offer in return. The big names with lots of sponsors know how to do this....it's probably something they should be teaching their students, in addition to how to ride that advanced corner combination.

                    I work in pr in the horse industry and I have had a few riders or parents of riders ask me if I would help them get some help in the way of sponsorship from a client. MANY makers of horse products would love to help a promising rider, not in the form of blank checks but with a small amount of help along the way.
                    I tell the people asking for help to send me a resume, some photos, what they want from a sponsor and what they offer in return. I don't hear back from them.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Excellent post Barb.

                      Sometimes, all it takes is asking and following through. My son just recently became a featured rider for a saddle pad manufacturer (not sure I can say who?? - but THANK YOU!!)
                      Last edited by pegasusmom; Dec. 28, 2007, 08:50 PM.
                      www.amiddle-agedmadwomantakesthereins.blogspot.com

                      www.pegasusridge.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am a breeder and a trainer and I have no upper level/team aspirations. I however have a talented 20 year old in my employ who does. I have worked for and around upper level riders for 20 years, and I was an equine journalist at the top levels for more than a decade. So I've seen that world, and what it requires, first hand.

                        The young man who works for me is not from a wealthy family, and has worked very hard for everything he has. Until recently he has had good, but not great horses--he made it to NAYRC twice, but didn't come home with a medal. He hopes to return this year and remedy that.

                        We have been working through the sponsorship thing, and his long term career goals. Working for me he gets a lot of opportunities to ride and show, but mainly it's sale horses and babies, so it's mainly at Novice level. However, having his name announced multiple times over the loudspeaker on a given weekend doesn't hurt. I do have a nice upper level homebred I have given him to compete, but my business isn't such a crazy moneymaker that he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants with him, and he does have to help out with entries, etc. On the other hand, he's getting a horse that's competing at prelim and intermediate, with talent to go all the way, for next to nothing.

                        He has secured, on his own, several product sponsorships from local companies. A tack shop provides him with any products he needs, and he has a "free" dressage saddle from a local custom saddle maker, and jumping saddles from another. It's not cash in hand to pay vet, farrier, and entry fees, but it certainly helps out the bottom line. Our next goal is to get a bit more financial backing for "real" bills on the two upper level horses he has (the one we own, and the one he owns).

                        But, compared to most 20 year olds with his relative level of success, he's doing really well. What are his secrets?

                        1. He is incredibly friendly, personable, and chatty. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, about anything. Any sponsor meeting him immediately think , 'this guy will talk my product or company up.' And he does. He's also honest with them about what he can, and can't, do for them. If he says they'll be a banner, there is, if he says he'll give out a flyer on a given saddle with every horse we sell, he does. He doesn't promise a blue ribbon every weekend, or a horse in the advanced at every show. He also gratefully accepts every level of help offered.

                        2. Luck. He has been in the right place at the right time on multiple occaisions. Not the least of which when he was a small child. I was his first riding instructor 15 years ago, when I moved back east a decade ago, he kept in touch, and when we moved back here, he came for a visit. One thing led to another, and now he has a pretty good opportunity to be seen and get lots of mileage.

                        3. He isn't too good to ride any horse. It doesn't mean you take stupid risks, but don't turn down a bunch of "average" horses hoping that an "awesome" one will come along. Ride the "topped out at Novice" horse with the same care and passion as the "Rolex 2010" horse, and people will notice. I always remind him that the horses Kim Severson rode for Linda Wachtmeister weren't Dan and Vennie, but her homebred Halflingers. By the same token, the horse he currently owns is world class, but quirky, quirky, quirky. Has been through several other good riders. It means he was able to afford more talent and success than his pocketbook should have allowed, but it also means he's had a few disapointments when the quirk has surfaced.

                        4. He has worked very hard for some tough people (not me of course ) and learned the trade from the bottom up. I get on him sometimes because in his perfect world he'd get to be a rider and nothing else, but I also know with full faith that he is capable of doing every job on this farm to perfection if I got hit by a bus tomorrow. I wouldn't hire or offer any opportunity to anyone who was "just" a great rider. That doesn't impress me, or most people, terribly much.

                        I do think making it to the top is MUCH more difficult than it was 20 or 30 or more years ago. And I think that the more our sport requires money as the overriding facotr the worse it will get. But, I hope there will still be enough good mojo in eventing that hardworking kids can still find their way into that pinque coat.
                        Phoenix Farm ~ Breeding-Training-Sales
                        Eventing, Dressage, Young Horses
                        www.phoenixsporthorses.com
                        Check out my new blog: http://califcountrymom.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PhoenixFarm View Post
                          I am a breeder and a trainer and I have no upper level/team aspirations. I however have a talented 20 year old in my employ who does. I have worked for and around upper level riders for 20 years, and I was an equine journalist at the top levels for more than a decade. So I've seen that world, and what it requires, first hand.

                          The young man who works for me is not from a wealthy family, and has worked very hard for everything he has. Until recently he has had good, but not great horses--he made it to NAYRC twice, but didn't come home with a medal. He hopes to return this year and remedy that.

                          We have been working through the sponsorship thing, and his long term career goals. Working for me he gets a lot of opportunities to ride and show, but mainly it's sale horses and babies, so it's mainly at Novice level. However, having his name announced multiple times over the loudspeaker on a given weekend doesn't hurt. I do have a nice upper level homebred I have given him to compete, but my business isn't such a crazy moneymaker that he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants with him, and he does have to help out with entries, etc. On the other hand, he's getting a horse that's competing at prelim and intermediate, with talent to go all the way, for next to nothing.

                          He has secured, on his own, several product sponsorships from local companies. A tack shop provides him with any products he needs, and he has a "free" dressage saddle from a local custom saddle maker, and jumping saddles from another. It's not cash in hand to pay vet, farrier, and entry fees, but it certainly helps out the bottom line. Our next goal is to get a bit more financial backing for "real" bills on the two upper level horses he has (the one we own, and the one he owns).

                          But, compared to most 20 year olds with his relative level of success, he's doing really well. What are his secrets?

                          1. He is incredibly friendly, personable, and chatty. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, about anything. Any sponsor meeting him immediately think , 'this guy will talk my product or company up.' And he does. He's also honest with them about what he can, and can't, do for them. If he says they'll be a banner, there is, if he says he'll give out a flyer on a given saddle with every horse we sell, he does. He doesn't promise a blue ribbon every weekend, or a horse in the advanced at every show. He also gratefully accepts every level of help offered.

                          2. Luck. He has been in the right place at the right time on multiple occaisions. Not the least of which when he was a small child. I was his first riding instructor 15 years ago, when I moved back east a decade ago, he kept in touch, and when we moved back here, he came for a visit. One thing led to another, and now he has a pretty good opportunity to be seen and get lots of mileage.

                          3. He isn't too good to ride any horse. It doesn't mean you take stupid risks, but don't turn down a bunch of "average" horses hoping that an "awesome" one will come along. Ride the "topped out at Novice" horse with the same care and passion as the "Rolex 2010" horse, and people will notice. I always remind him that the horses Kim Severson rode for Linda Wachtmeister weren't Dan and Vennie, but her homebred Halflingers. By the same token, the horse he currently owns is world class, but quirky, quirky, quirky. Has been through several other good riders. It means he was able to afford more talent and success than his pocketbook should have allowed, but it also means he's had a few disapointments when the quirk has surfaced.

                          4. He has worked very hard for some tough people (not me of course ) and learned the trade from the bottom up. I get on him sometimes because in his perfect world he'd get to be a rider and nothing else, but I also know with full faith that he is capable of doing every job on this farm to perfection if I got hit by a bus tomorrow. I wouldn't hire or offer any opportunity to anyone who was "just" a great rider. That doesn't impress me, or most people, terribly much.

                          I do think making it to the top is MUCH more difficult than it was 20 or 30 or more years ago. And I think that the more our sport requires money as the overriding facotr the worse it will get. But, I hope there will still be enough good mojo in eventing that hardworking kids can still find their way into that pinque coat.

                          I have just copied your reply to my son! Great reasons, every one....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Two ideas for providing mounts

                            Would it work to syndicate a horse for eventing? I can imagine a promising eventing mount
                            (would have to be a stallion I think) being purchased by a large group of folks who like to
                            follow eventing with the intention of providing the animal and it upkeep costs to a rider who
                            is a promising up-and-comer. Instead of one rich patron this rider would have many patrons
                            of modest means. Wouldn't it be fun to go to Rolex or other major competition to watch
                            and cheer for "your competitor"? And there would always be a hope that the animal would
                            be successful enough that stud fees would eventually provide a monetary return to the
                            investors.

                            Other idea is a long term effort to supply mounts for the rising stars who are not able to
                            buy their own mounts. Get someone to donate a farm and start a breeding program.
                            Get donations of stallion service from eventing supporters who own proven eventing
                            sires. Expect those who have "prospects" of receiving one of the production of this farm
                            to volunteer for a season to provide the majority of staff for the farm. Once a horse does
                            show promise, assign it to a rider who gets to compete the horse (and hopefully make
                            his or her name in eventing). The horse will eventually come back to the farm for stud
                            service or will eventually be sold for financial support of the farm. It might be possible
                            for the farm to come close to be self sustaining eventually.
                            Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                            Elmwood, Wisconsin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is the question that keeps me up nights. Through alot of hard work, a whole lot of luck, and some stupids risks, I have sort of stepped over the threshold to some degree making it to Intermediate and to Radnor and VA and getting my name out there on a lot of horses and, for better or worse, gaining a reputation of as a "fixer" of problem horses. Nonetheless, I have gotten more small time feed, tack, and expense sponsorships than I can count just by asking. Pennfield, Nutrena, Adequan, Cosequin, GLC, BoB, several horse trials that are local to whereever I'm living, several local tack shops, and numerous individuals have provided their support in furthering my career and for that I cannot be thankful enough. What it has ultimately come down to is they can't say "Yes" if you don't ask and remember to be asking what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. I still don't have an Advanced horse but it's about finding a horse than you can work with within your and his/her parameters and working you way up. Ex: Purchase $200 pony in field that can move at liberty well, sell for $3500 two months later after teaching he/she to WTC, jump small courses, switch leads. Use that $3500 to buy a nice OTTB or young prospect, repeat same steps, sell for $8500, repeat steps with nicer prospect, sell for $15,000, and then just maybe you'll find something worth having. Atleast that is my system. WEG 2010 is my oh so ambitious goal. Watch out guys!
                              "Gallop as if you were to die tomorrow, jump as if you were to live forever."

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                As a parent of two young eventers, Liz and Caroline, I am painfully familiar with this story. Caroline (16), when not in school, is a working student for a respected eventing trainer. She is paid in lessons and show entries, advice and equipment. Her own horse won't go above Training, so a client of her trainer offered her a free lease on her daughter's (currently in vet school) * horse. Liz (20) is developing her own...her mare just did her first Prelim after a slow start due to lack of a trailer and random injuries. She works too many hours (and goes to school) to support her horse, pay for lessons, and fund entries. Both kids want to keep moving up in the levels as they also live their lives (go to school, do internships, plan for non-riding careers). They do see friends who are daughters of wealthy parents being handed one nice horse after another...but they also know it's the journey as much as the destination. Doesn't mean (as Caroline said) that she'd turn one down...

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                                • #17
                                  That is an accurate representation in my opinion. If you have lots of horses to get your name out there, you can get sponsorships. or if you have one really great horse you can campaign a lot, you can get sponsorships. If you make it as a YR you can get sponsorships with less than stellar results as long as you are competing at CCI** or up.

                                  The people with the most money, support and horses get the sponsorships and it leaves the rest to just wonder "what if". Although Olympicdreams makes a good point. Asking local businesses for anything they can offer helps and trying to flip "cheapie" horses can get you there- but as she stated, you have to start small and very cheap and work your way up. that takes a lot of time and sometimes you get a "lemon" that you take a loss for.

                                  but its a long hard road that many have to give up along the way or settle for the lower levels or as young horse trainers. I would love to see more grants and scholarships for those of us without a string of horses and money. I have nice young horses, but it will take some time until they are going prelim which would put me in the position to seek assistance. but the more money I can put into them as youngsters the quicker they come along and the more successful they become.

                                  its certainly not an easy situation. Maybe upper level riders could offer some free entries to their clinics won by essay or something of the sort?? I would love to take both of mine to clinics- but many of them are 300-400 per horse.

                                  I know getting a few entries paid a year, or a clinic or two, or a handful of lessons would make a HUGE difference in my bottom line and the training of my horses and myself.

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                                  • #18
                                    luveventing - several years ago, the Young Rider Advancement Program encouraged "young riders" at the top of the sport to donate time to clinics for BN-P kids on their way up. We talked facilities into hosting at a minimal charge (Pleasant Hollow, for one) - so the cost per rider for a 2 hour XC session in a group of 4 was about $50. The ones I hosted up here were very well received - Sara Kozumplik Dierks (who drove non-stop from Florida) and Will Coleman (who drove all night after waiting up for the vet for an NQR horse). They were wonderful - and the kids were really inspired.

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                                    • #19
                                      Young Riders

                                      Our Pony Club has been supportive and inspirational for our young riders, one of whom was on the NAJYRC ** Silver Medal team and finished 10th individually, one was on the * Bronze Medal team and finished 7th individually, and one member rode at Rolex this year, finishing 23rd. Each of these young women came to a meeting to talk about the Young Riders program. They give that program a lot of credit for their successes.

                                      I think it is very difficult for young people with no money or support to "make it" in equestrian sports. I have tried before to see if there is anyone who has "made it" without either money or family in the business. Anyone?

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                                      • #20
                                        [QUOTE=BarbB;2897260]
                                        I tell the people asking for help to send me a resume, some photos, what they want from a sponsor and what they offer in return. I don't hear back from them.

                                        If you are going to go to a business and ask for money you better have all your ducks in a row and be prepared to make a professional presentation.

                                        The same sort of presentation made to breeders of sport horses could land someone the use of a top quality horse, but those breeders, with rare exceptions, are not out shopping for a rider, the rider needs to go and find them. QUOTE]

                                        This may be a stupid question, but... aside from their name on a saddle pad and verbal promotion of their product, what do amateur no name riders have to offer sponsors?

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